I was walking the all seeing dog, when I saw this reflection is a water feature that can be found along one of her routes. For some reason it was clear and blue. It was also highly reflective. The bare trees of winter were looking back at me. I made a lot of pictures. I made some with the bank and made some that are much more colorful than this one.
This one reminds of a Van Gogh painting. Of course, his has little cherry flower blossoms in it that really bring it to life. As much as Van Gogh has always been one of my muses, I only recently learned of his fascination with all things Japanese. I have a show catalog that is based on it.
One more thing.
To me, this picture is a bit confusing. It looks upside down. It isn’t. That’s how the trees in the background were reflected. My instinct is to flip it over.
That’s what I wanted to do. Of my three greatest influences, two are painters. Only one is a photographer. Ernst Haas. The painters are pretty well-known. Van Gogh and Georgia O’Keeffe are known even among folks who don’t have much interest in art. Haas is well-known to the older photography community. The younger photographers don’t seem to know or care about the history that brought us to this time.
I started thinking about this as I was reading the catalogue for the exhibition, “Van Gogh & Japan,” being shown now in Amsterdam.
To my eye, what looks complex is very simple. The complexity is built in layers. That’s painting.
I’m a photographer.
Try as I might, I have no talent for actually putting the brush to paper, or canvas. So, I studied Ernst Haas as much as my painting muses. He was a photographer who was represented by Magnum. He worked for Life Magazine. He had advertising clients. He was a “special photographer” on movie sets. That meant that he made a lot of pictures that are not what he would call portfolio work. We all do that in order to pay the bills. Even the great ones.
Haas also published books. Not the self-published, self edited, self designed silliness that seems to be clogging up reader lists. No. Books that were edited and published by professionals. The book that first caught my eye was, “The Creation.” It caught a lot of people’s’ eyes. It showed me what photography could be. It taught me that photography could stand next to the painted works of Van Gogh and O’Keeffe. Those of us who work with cameras, lens and all sorts of mechanical devices didn’t have to be second or third class citizens. I’d just wish that we’d learn to raise our prices like painters do.
More importantly, all of this work taught me that we didn’t have to be documentarians. That we could make images that stood on their own, without an event to back them up. For as long as I’ve known this, I’m finally just starting to understand it.
That is one reason that my “New Orleans culture” productivity has been down. Pictures that more-or-less look the same from year-to-year aren’t fulfilling to me anymore. I come out for those events because I like being with the people. I like talking to my brother and sister photographers. I like talking to the Indians and social clubs. Most of all the rhythm of the music and the street seems to make my hip and back feel much better. If I could figure out a way to make a picture that was more art than documentary I’d stay on the streets for as long as they’ll have me.
This picture. For a distance, this picture looks fairly simple. Just like my three muses work does. Move in closer. The photograph starts looking more complex. More complicated. Very detailed. That’s the positive side of it. There are many negatives. Not the least being the basic subject matter. I made this picture this morning. Because I had to. I’m running out of new work. I don’t seem to be inspired to make new, meaningful work.
I don’t know why.
It’s not a block.A block usually means that you try and can’t. I haven’t really been trying. I can’t find a subject or project that excites me.
Oh well. I know this one truth. Don’t force it. It will come.
First, you’ve looked at all of these scenes. As photographs. Sure, I tinkered with them. Some. Usually, I would use software called OnOne. It just helps to complete my intent.
Yesterday I receive an email from another image manipulation software called Topaz. I played with their software many years ago before I finally settled on my present software. In both cases, they are simply packaging layers that can be created in Photoshop. I can do some of that. But… it’s really time-consuming. And, as an old friend of mine once said, “Photographers are painters in a hurry.” Who has time to keep building layers by hand? Sheesh.
Anyway, Topaz created some new software that supposedly recreates real brush strokes in all sorts of styles. You can use if for free, for a month. Cool. I thought. I’ll test it. Because… well, you never know.
It’s pretty easy to use. Pick a style and just push a button and the software reads and responds to whatever it “sees.” But, that got boring really quickly. Besides, I had absolutely no control over anything. That was, until I noticed this odd looking button that had a slider Icon. I pushed it. The whole world opened up. Or, something like the whole world. I pretty much could modify anything within a certain genre of painting. So, the first picture started out as a representation of Van Gogh’s style. Then I messed with it. Now it’s a Van Gogh-Laskowitz. Well. Mostly a Van Gogh.
I’m still not sure about it. Whether I really like enough to pay for the software when my 30 days are up is questionable. Even if it is the greatest things since sliced bread, I’m not sure how much I’d use it besides to amuse myself. I’m pretty certain that I don’t have any professional applications for it.